Microbiome in the gut & Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease, and medications to treat Parkinson’s, have distinct effects on the composition of the trillions of bacteria that make up the gut microbiome, new research shows.

Source: Link between microbiome in the gut, Parkinson’s discovered

So many great studies about the relationship between our co-evolved symbionts and dreaded diseases came out in May of 2017. I hope you looked at The People’s Pharmacy article for the wide range of effects of these simple critters which live in our gut. Including, most surprising to me – Depression!

It’s like a jungle in there. The thing is, I like to bring it back to herbs and nutrition because whether or when the scientists have caught up with what herbalists knew thousands of years ago or not, you can experiment on yourself for cheap. Eat right – feel better. Since June is Burdock month, I’ll point out that it contains inulin, a carbohydrate not found in many American’s diet but one uniquely suited to encourage and feed several types of healthy gut critters. Inulin is a diabetic’s friend, sort of an anti-sugar. Sugar does not promote or encourage healthy critters, it does the exact opposite.

So try doing Burdock for one month and see if your:

  • digestion is better
  • your skin looks better
  • you have more energy

Liver and Lyme Herbs

Herbs: Chronic Liver Disease and Neurological Lyme Disease

If you have read some of my praise of Burdock, you might have a good idea of how effective this herb can be. What may be more significant is my own personal history with what my doctors called “chronic liver disease“. As a result of industrial metals poisoning (copper, chromium, nickel), alcohol and aspirin abuse and Lyme disease (neurological phase 3) I found myself laying before a surgeon hearing the “liver transplant” speech after draining six liters of fluid from my abdomen.

Although the gory details which preceded the speech might be useful to some, I still don’t like to talk about those dark days. What I believe is more important, is to carry the message that it may be possible for others to recover from such a condition just like I did.

First, I am very fortunate and grateful to have had wonderful doctors. With advisement and precautions they followed my herbal journey and encouraged me to continue my regimen as long as I was examined and tested regularly. So it went and within two years I received the liver panel blood test results which made my gastroenterologist laugh out loud, pat me on my back and with a warning like Cinderella’s fairy godmother tell me “make sure you CONTINUE to do what you’re doing”.

So what did I do? I began by dietary changes. The doctors suggested “simple” proteins as they are more easily digested, so I eat very little red meat, only a little white meat and a lot more fish, nuts, seeds, particularly hemp and yogurt. Whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables make up the majority of my diet. Afterall, Hippocrates himself said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”.

I became a serious organic gardener of herbs, a careful student and avid researcher of nutrition. I read “Alpha Lipoic Acid” by Dr. Burton Berkson, July 2000, Better Nutrition. I immediately began taking Alpha Lipoic Acid, Milk Thistle, CoQ10 and vitamin C. All of which are included in doTERRA’S Life Long Vitality supplements. Then instead of planting more tomatoes and lettuce I began planting the herbs suggested as beneficial for my condition. At that point I just wanted to see what these live herbs looked like. They fascinated me at the time but now I can understand how generations of people came to revere them as sacred. The language herbalists used to describe their actions and their “signatures” pulled me deeper.

Once I realized how rare the turnaround of my liver condition was I thankfully credited these brilliant doctors and generations of herbalists who accumulated this knowledge. If they could work so dramatically on my liver, what could they do for my Lyme disease? One good thing led to another. My gardening passion turned into hardcore herbalism which brought me to Permies and Paul Wheaton who asked us to help herbalist Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals to get a new dishwasher for her business through a kickstarter campaign. My small donation was acknowledged with an unexpected gift, a book called Healing Lyme Naturally by Wolf D. Storl. The foreword was written by herbalist Matthew Wood who has since become my favorite herbalist and who’s wisdom I abide.

Teasel is an herb which is the foundation of my Lyme disease success. Had not I had been open to new ideas and become willing to try alternative treatments I might have become yet another medical ping pong ball or worse, have my original body parts hacked off. The horror stories about Lyme are as bad as liver disease. The hair on the back of my neck crawled when I heard The People’s Pharmacy podcast What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease.

The takeaway from this post I hope will be, not to despair, not to give up, stay positive and find your path. In my present liver regimen I now include the herbs Burdock, Dandelion, Yellow Dock and Agrimony, each of which is worthy of separate discussions.

Burdock’s Anti-aging Effect – Vanity Alert

An interesting research study on 21 different plant extracts, including Burdock, and their effects on elastin and collagen, the two key proteins in connective tissue. Both proteins are critical throughout the body but highly noticeable in skin quality, muscle tone, bone strength and the all important arterial wall. Most people who have gotten this far know that skin condition often indicates liver issues. So it’s wonderful to have beautiful skin but perhaps better to have a healthy liver. Bear in mind that these researchers tested “extracts” of the herbs noted here. That means they were concentrates. So for instance, where “white tea” is noted, this does not refer to a simple cup of “white tea” tea, as an infusion, but rather the solvent extract of the white tea plant. The following excerpt is from a study referenced at the bottom of this post and available on the National Institute of Health’s website at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/
Background
Owing to their roles in tissue remodelling in health and disease, several studies have reported investigations on plant extracts as inhibitors of proteinases and as anti-oxidants.
Methods
The anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties of 23 plant extracts (from 21 plant species) were assessed as anti-elastase and anti-collagenase activities and in selected anti-oxidant assays along with phenolic content.
Results
Anti-elastase activities were observed for nine of the extracts with inhibitory activity in the following order:
white tea (~89%)
cleavers (~58%)
burdock root (~51%)
bladderwrack (~50%)
anise (~32%)
angelica (~32%)
Anti-collagenase activities were exhibited by sixteen plants of which the highest activity
was seen in:
white tea (~87%)
green tea (~47%)
rose tincture (~41%)
lavender (~31%).
Conclusion
From a panel of twenty three plant extracts, some one dozen exhibit high or satisfactory anti-collagenase or anti-elastase activities, with nine having inhibitory activity against both enzymes.
Reference
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009; 9: 27.    Published online 2009 Aug 4. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-27    PMCID: PMC2728709
Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants
Tamsyn SA Thring,Pauline Hili, andDeclan P Naughton
School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, London, KT1 2EE, UK
Neal’s Yard Remedies, 15 Neal’s Yard, London, WC2H 9DP, UK
Received 2009 Apr 6; Accepted 2009 Aug 4.    Copyright© 2009 Thring et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Burdock seeds

Burdock seeds possess a slight “diffusive” quality, producing a “tingly” sensation on the tongue when chewed or taken as an extract; this indicates that some of its virtues are quickly taken up via the nervous system and put to immediate action.

I have not seen burdock’s true virtue more clearly or beautifully captured than by herbalist Matthew Wood, who wrote:

“On a psychological level, Burdock helps us deal with our worries about the unknown… which lurk in the dark woods beyond our control. It seizes upon deep complex issues, penetrates to the core and brings up old memories and new answers. It gives us faith to move ahead on our path, despite the unknown problems that might snare us on our way. It helps the person who is afraid become more hardy, while it brings the hardy wanderer back to his original path. It restores vigor and momentum.”

Burdock why?

If, after you read Dr Axe’s run down of the many substantial benefits of Burdock you’re not impressed, there’s more personal reasons to consider experimenting with this powerful herb. These are my personal observations and experiences:

  • tastes kinda like roasted potatoes to me
  • it’s a tonic and a medicine, meaning:
    • tonic you can and should take every day for continuous nutritive value and preventative care, especially for digestive health
    • medicine, usually in higher doses in tincture form for brief periods of time when ill
  • prevents many toxic chemicals, particularly metals from causing tissue damage, this is especially important for the liver and/or if you have been over exposed to metals, compounds in Burdock chelate metals
  • I noticed the first, most obvious effect on my skin within the first week and in my scalp and hair during the following week from eczema and it’s good for acne and psoriasis too
  • modulates blood sugar levels and once my digestive system healed, eliminated cravings and thus poor eating habits
  • many Burdock products including fresh root are available in good Asian markets
  • so easy to grow your own and just as good for your garden’s soil as it is for your gut and works in much the same way, deep in the soil as it does – deep in your gut, providing a suitable environment for good bacteria to thrive

Dr. Axe on Burdock

Source: Burdock Root Detoxes Blood, Lymph System + Skin – Dr. Axe

Speaking of Burdock

a handful of fresh Burdock roots

I am surely a Burdock evangelist. Those plants which are now in their second spring go through a selection process right now, still early spring here in New York City, USA. Burdock is a biennial, so it reaches full maturity at the end of it’s second year of growth. Each healthy plant then begins to send up a mighty flower stalk from the center of the plant. All docks grow from a basal whorl – basically a circular arrangement of leaves  growing close to the soil.

So the selection decision is between whether to harvest the root in the spring or wait until autumn and harvest the seed. Both parts are powerful medicines. If the plant is allowed to continue to grow throughout the summer it’s root will be consumed in order to produce flowers and seed. I generally only need one large Burdock plant to go to seed. From that one plant I will harvest all the seed for next year’s planting as well as enough for two pints of Burdock seed tincture.

Most of the Burdock I grow will be harvested for the roots. These are chopped first with pruning shears and then shredded in a blender with a little water and tinctured 1:2 (wt. of root: vol. of menstruum) at 45% ethanol.

vicious 3 bladed Ninja

I’ll get into the details of why Burdock is one of the most important medicinal herbs in another post. Gut and liver health is what I cherish Burdock for so it’s value will depend upon the user. Many herbalists say it’s a “blood purifier” which upsets many medical pros since technically – no it doesn’t. What does purify blood is the liver and Burdock acts upon the liver to support and enhance it’s proper function. It also supports all the beneficial gut bacteria which are the prime agents of good health.